April 18, 2022
Russia has raised concern about the increased military activity of the US-led NATO alliance in the Arctic, fearing risks of “unintended incidents” occurring in the region.
Russian ambassador-at-large for Arctic cooperation, Nikolai Korchunov, was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency on Sunday that the alliance’s military activity in the Arctic was a “cause for concern.”
“Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region,” he said.
The senior Russian diplomat was referring to NATO’s latest military drill, dubbed ‘Cold Response 2022’, which began on March 14 and lasted for two weeks.
It was the NATO’s largest exercise in the Arctic in more than three decades, held across Norway – on land, in the air, and at sea – with the participation of 30,000 troops from 27 countries.
Korchunov emphasized that such activity raised the risk of “unintended incidents” that may also lead to security risks, and cause serious damage to the fragile Arctic ecosystem.
He, however, did not elaborate on the incidents he referred to.
“The internationalization of the alliance´s military activities in the high latitudes, in which the non-Arctic NATO States are involved, cannot but be a cause for concern”, he asserted.
Korchunov said the drill marked the largest military maneuvers led by Norway since the 1980s and included NATO partners such as Finland and Sweden.
The probable entry of Sweden and Finland into the NATO military alliance, he warned, could have a negative impact on security and mutual trust in the Arctic region.
The development comes amid warnings that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a European exclave.
Both countries have in recent years developed a close relationship with NATO, especially after joining its Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 1994 and the European Union in 1995. They are reportedly at the cusp of joining the multilateral military alliance.
Korchunov’s remarks coincide with an AP report on Saturday that the US military is using the Ukraine conflict to “prepare for future fights against a major adversary such as Russia or China.”
According to the report, the US military is training to fight in an environment heavily shaped by the Russian military operation in Ukraine launched about two months ago.
It added that the objective of this month’s war game in California was to prepare for future wars against Russia or China – the two biggest adversaries of the US.
During the drills, nearly 4,500 US soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are pitted against the fictional “Devonian’ forces – the exercise’s apparent stand-in for the Russians – who control the fictional town of Ujen.
“I think right now the whole Army is really looking at what’s happening in Ukraine and trying to learn lessons,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth was quoted as saying by AP. “The Russia-Ukraine experience is a very powerful illustration for our army of how important the information domain is going to be.”
On February 24, Russia began what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s Donbas region to defend people subjected to “genocide” by government forces, stressing that it had “no plans to occupy the Ukrainian territory.”
US President Joe Biden called the Russian action an “unprovoked and unjustified attack,” and the American media described it as the biggest assault on a European state since World War II.
Russia says it will halt the military operation if Kiev meets Moscow’s conditions, which include the protection of its interests and nationals in Ukraine and the prevention of the former Soviet republic’s accession to the Western military alliance of NATO.
The two warring sides have held many rounds of peace talks in recent weeks, without achieving any breakthrough.